Buzzing the Stadium

September 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm 15 comments

DSC_4156 sm helicopter

The state troopers were good sports, and one of them even took my picture.

I got a little bored during the third quarter of the Penn State-Syracuse game this afternoon, so I decided to hop on a state police helicopter and go for a ride.

OK, that’s not exactly how it happened.

What happened was more like this: I’d been thinking that going along in the police helicopter while they’re monitoring game-day traffic might make interesting fodder for my column in our next issue. So earlier this week I called Annemarie Mountz ’84, manager of the news bureau in Public Information, because I remembered she had done something similar last year. (You can see her photos from that trip here. Note that she had gorgeous blue skies and sunshine for her ride, while today was cloudy and overcast. Not that I’m jealous or anything.)

DSC_3943 sm Eastview Terrace

The relatively new Eastview Terrace residence-hall complex, on East College Avenue.

Anyway, Annemarie put me in touch with Clifford Lutz ’75, who is assistant chief of University Police Services. He’s the guy who coordinates the game-day police operations, so he made arrangements for the state police to take me up.

I got to the stadium by 9:45 a.m., as instructed, but the helicopter wasn’t there yet—it had been diverted to an emergency in DuBois. So I hung around a while, went over to visit Paul Frankhouser’s famous tailgate, and strolled some of the other tailgates.

The alumni center. Ryan and Lori, I can see your offices!

The alumni center.

Eventually I called Asst. Chief Lutz (who I’m told spends the day on top of the press box roof) and he said it could be a while; he’d call me. So I went inside the stadium and joined some friends who happened to have an extra ticket today.

I saw most of the first half and part of the third quarter, while noting with dismay that it’s next to impossible to get cell phone service inside the stadium. That’s because 110,000 other people are texting and making calls and sending photos. I had visions of going home after the game and finding out that I missed the helicopter ride because they couldn’t reach me by phone.

And then partway through the third quarter I got a text message from Asst. Chief Lutz:

Sgt. Fox and Sgt. Cochran, the nicest state troopers you'd ever want to meet....

Sgt. Fox and Sgt. Cochran, the nicest state troopers you'd ever want to meet....

Ready to go in about 15?

So I jumped out of my seat, said goodbye to my friends, and hustled down to the grassy area near Jeffrey Field where the helicopters land. I met the two very nice state troopers who were piloting the thing, they gave me some instructions, and up we went.

I got a great aerial tour of campus, took 274 photos in approximately 20 minutes, learned a bit about what the state police helicopter detail does, and pretty much didn’t want it to end. (I never did get to see how they monitor traffic … maybe another time.)

Oh, and contrary to the title of this blog entry, we did not buzz the stadium—the state police really prefer not to fly directly over the stadium when the game is in progress. But they did take me close enough for some good photos.

By the way, I got to fly with my door open. Makes for better photos that way—and the exhilaration of having nothing but air between you all the sights can’t be beat.

I’ll have more to say about the whole experience in my column for our November-December issue. Unless I quit my job between now and then and go to helicopter-pilot school or something….

Tina Hay, editor

Update: You can see about a dozen of the aerial photos at or, if you’re really into it, a slide show of about 30 on

Entry filed under: University Park. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Lenny Moore: Penn State’s Greatest Ever? Alan Furst in the NYT Travel Section

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. R Thomas Berner  |  September 13, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I am jealous. ;-)

  • 2. Stacey  |  September 13, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Me too!!!

  • 3. Dave  |  September 13, 2009 at 10:40 am

    all the hype and only two photos to share? more, please! is there a link to all of the photos? stop teasing me with your great experience…SHARE!!!!! lol

  • 4. Tina Hay  |  September 13, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Well … there’s talk that Penn State Public Information will post them on, so I haven’t posted them myself, for fear of usurping that. But since you asked :-) you can see a slide show of 20 or so shots here:

  • 5. Diana  |  September 13, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I love these–a huge Wow! Thanks for the additional link.

  • 6. More on the Helicopter Ride « The Penn Stater  |  September 13, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    […] he was at the game yesterday, saw the helicopter flying by the stadium, and took a photo. Only later did he find out that I was the person in the back seat with the door […]

  • 7. Gia  |  September 13, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Great shots!!! Thanks for sharing.

  • 8. Free Games  |  September 14, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    me too

  • 9. Marge Badiali  |  September 15, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Bern and I saw the helicopter. Had we known it was you we would have stood up and waved. Great pictures!

  • […] this goes through, I’ve got a feeling Tina may get greedy and ask for a window seat on the next Space […]

  • 12. The Best of The Penn Stater Blog, 2009 «  |  January 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

    […] 2. “Buzzing the Stadium” […]

  • 13. christopher Mitchell  |  January 7, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I love this magazine! im in 6th grade and live in Vancouver washington. i got the pennstater from my english teacher and i think its amazing. Its the only way i can connect to pennstate from here in washington. thank you

  • 14. Tina Hay  |  January 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Wow, Christopher, I think you might be our youngest reader! I love the fact that you’re reading the magazine. Thanks for being a fan!

  • 15. Photographing Penn State from the Air—Again «  |  April 20, 2010 at 11:44 am

    […] since I got that ride in that state police helicopter last fall, I’ve been thinking about aerial […]

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